Rain recently has resulted in much of the grazing country producing a good growth of legume (mostly burr medic) dominant pasture. Stock grazing such pastures are susceptible to bloat and pulpy kidney which can cause severe losses.
Both conditions result in rapid death and can be quite difficult to differentiate in the dead animal. However, the causes are quite different.
Bloat results in a froth developing in the rumen which traps gas preventing it from being belched. This gas build causes the rumen to expand putting pressure against organs and resulting in sudden death.
When pastures are considered risky there are a few management options available:
- Offering roughage such as hay before being placed on the pasture and during pasture exposure to fill the cattle up
- Anti-bloat blocks or licks
- Placing bloat oil into the water supply (only works with troughs, remembering that on lush pasture water intake is reduced).
The more measures taken the more the risk can be reduced.
Pulpy kidney is caused by bacteria which are naturally found in the gastro-intestinal tract of ruminants in very low numbers. The bacteria produce a toxin, and normally in low amounts the body neutralises the toxin without any problems. When eating lush pastures the bacterial numbers increase as does the toxin levels resulting in toxaemia.
Livestock are generally found dead and often they bloat just before death.
It is important to identify the cause of sudden death as pulpy kidney can only be precented. This entails a proper vaccination schedule. The initial course is two vaccinations 4-6 weeks apart with the initial dose given at marking or weaning. Boosters may be necessary with 5 in 1 which is an effective insurance against losses.